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No Advance Directives for Almost Two-Thirds of U.S. Population

FRIDAY, July 7, 2017 -- An estimated two of three people in the United States have not completed an advanced directive, according to a review published in the July issue of Health Affairs.

Kuldeep N. Yadav, from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a systematic review of studies published in 2011 to 2016 to examine the proportion of U.S. adults with a completed living will, health care power of attorney, or both. Data were included for 795,909 people in 150 studies.

The researchers found that 36.7 percent of those in the studies had completed an advance directive, including 29.3 percent with living wills. Similar proportions were seen across the years studied. The proportion with advanced directives was similar for patients with chronic illness and healthy adults (38.2 and 32.7 percent, respectively).

"The findings provide benchmarks for gauging future policies and practices designed to motivate completion of advance directives, particularly among those people most likely to benefit from having these documents on record," the authors write.

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Posted: July 2017